I’ve never had much to do with perfume. Always felt stupid when I wore it: like a sow’s ear trying to be a silk purse. In fact that applied to anything that might smack even vaguely of being girly, up to and including wearing pink.
I’m pretty sure this attitude came from being tall. And ungainly. Whether the ungainly part was actually true or simply ground in by vicious sports teachers (all very British) hell bent on humiliating anyone not suitably jolly-hockey-sticks, I’ll never know: it was one of those deep-seated shames I accepted so completely that it never occurred to me to run it past a third party.
Either way, being tall would have been enough. Tall was not good in my formative years, which were long before modelling was respectable and models were tall. Girls were supposed to be little. They didn’t tower over everyone else. They certainly weren’t taller than boys of a similar age. And if they did do these unladylike things, they couldn’t expect to find clothes to fit and feminine-type shoes big enough for their wholly unfeminine feet.
So there was no way, with all that in my face, that I was going to make a fool of myself by pretending to be girly. Frills, furbelows, rope petticoats and fluttering eyelashes? Grotesque, I thought: like fairy lights on a camel.
I have shrunk a bit since then, and tall women have become more acceptable. I now wear pink occasionally. But perfume? Too late, I think. Far too late to turn a donkey into a thoroughbred.